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Re: Jed - Bothvarr, lines 30-48

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  • xigung
    ... wasn t happy with the way the words were coming out in English when I tried to keep close to the text. Thanks for your efforts. The form you have given
    Message 1 of 2 , May 16, 2003
      --- Gerald Mcharg wrote:
      > This is a freer translation than is usual even for me because I
      wasn't happy with the way the words were coming out in English when I
      tried to keep close to the text.

      Thanks for your efforts. The form you have given this
      makes it into a good excercise, I think.
      I mean, also for those who read your translation.
      I will comment below.
      But let me say first that I too feel uncertain about
      many things - which is what keeps it at the level
      where it is challenging.

      > Boðvarr Bjarki lines 30 - 48 A quiet evening meal
      > Eptir þat kveldar ok drifa menn í höllina ok sjá Hrólfs kappar at
      Höttr er settr á bekk upp,
      > After that evening came and men thronged in to the hall and Hrolf's
      warriors saw that Hott was seated up on a bench,

      C: Here one needs to look up the verb.
      That is because In English there are two verbs: to sit
      and to set. In Old Norse, in Zoëga, I find both
      setja (set, setta, settr), and sitja (sit; sat, sátum; setinn).
      It is setja that has the same form of the participle as in the text.
      The question now is whether he Höttur was merely "sitting"
      on a bench or whether he had been "set" (placed) on a bench
      - put on display as it were.

      > ok þykkir þeim sá maðr hafa gört sik orit djarfan, er þetta hefir
      til tekit
      > and it seemed to them that this man had made himself brash enough,
      when he presumed to do this.

      C: Personally I would have preferred a translation from
      which one can see the meaning of individual words.
      For example, if someone asks what the word "orit" means,
      then it is not straightforward to glean this from your

      > Illt tillit hefir Höttr, þá er hann sér kunningja sína, því at hann
      hefir ilt eitt af þeim reynt,
      > Hott had some evil looks when he saw the ones he knew, because he
      had experienced ill treatment from them,

      C: I wonder if this "lit" is the same as "litur" (colour).
      (I can look into that, once I get to my etymological
      dictionary, which I don't have with me now)
      Any way, it is not clear from your translation whether
      it were the others who gave Höttur "bad looks" (pl.), or
      whether it was Höttur himself who had "a troubled look"
      (sg.) upon his face, when he saw the others coming.
      I too am not sure what "eitt" means here.
      But my first thought would be to look in Zoëga under
      "einn" (=one), because "eitt" is merely the neutrum
      form of einn. Thus, my feeling is that "einn"
      is used for persons, and "eitt" for things. But that
      needs to be checked by using a dictionary with more
      examples than can be found in Zoëga.

      > hann vill lifa gjarnan ok fara aptr í beinahrúgu sína, en Böðvarr
      heldr honum, svá at hann
      > he was eager to stay alive and return to his pile of bones, but
      Bothvar held him, so that he
      > náir ekki í brottu at fara, því at hann þóttisk ekki jafnberr fyrir
      höggum þeira, ef hann næði þangat at komask, sem hann er nú
      > could not get away, because it seemed to him that he would not be
      exposed to their blows on all sides, as he was now, if he could
      manage to get there.

      C: I had some trouble with the word "jafnberr".
      After consulting Zoëga, where jafn and berr were only
      listed separately, and not in combination,
      I think I'll settle for "equally bare". Then I see
      that that is the option you have chosen as well,
      for "bare" is the same as "open" or "exposed".
      But I would simply translate by "equally exposed" and not
      add anything about "from all sides", since that was
      somewhat confusing at first.

      > Hirðmenn hafa nú sama vanda, ok kasta fyrst beinum smám um þvert
      gólfit til Böðvars ok Hattar.
      > The men in the hall kept to their usual custom and at first they
      threw small bones across the floor at Bothvar and Hott.
      C: "Hirdmen" seems difficult to translate.
      Guards or soldiers perhaps?
      "The king's men" might actually be the best option,
      since that is what they were.

      > Böðvarr lætr sem hann sjái eigi þetta. Höttr er svá hræddr at hann
      tekr eigi mat né drykk,
      > Bothvarr pretended he did not see this. Hott was so frightened that
      he would neither eat nor drink,

      C: I notice you have let everything take place in the past tense.
      Perhaps that is better in English?

      > ok þykkir honum þá ok þá sem hann muni vera lostinn. Ok nú mælti
      Höttr til Böðvars: 'Bokki sæll,

      > and thought at every moment that he would be hit. And now Hott
      spoke to Bothvarr, 'Bokki saell,

      C: "lostinn" is perhaps worthy of a comment, because it
      is not found directly in this form in the dictionary.
      Here one needs to "know" that it derives from the verb
      ljósta (lýst; laust, lustum; lostinn), and it means to
      strike - which means that your translation is correct!
      (although I am uncertain if "could" is not better than "would".
      I seem to recall the two forms hann mun, as well as hann muni.)

      > nú ferr at þér stór knúta, ok mun þetta ætlat okkr til nauða'.
      Böðvarr bað hann þeggja.
      > a lot of knuckle-bones are coming at you, and this is intended to
      hurt us.' Bothvar told him to be quiet.
      > Hann setr við holan lófann ok tekr svá við knútunni; þar fylgir
      leggrinn meða
      > He cupped his hands and so caught the knuckle bones; the leg joints
      were attached to them.

      C: Zoëga has lófa m. = palm, and so it seems your translation
      is basically correct. But here too there is a difference between
      hann sitr and hann setr. I note btw that holan lófann ought
      to be an accusative singular, hence it seems to me that he uses
      only one hand. Maybe a little bit like catching a baseball.
      I wonder if "setja við" ought not to be read as a unit, as
      a standard phrase with a fixed meaning. It would then mean
      that he put his hand up in the air, so as to stop the object
      that was thrown at him, so that "setja við" then ought to be
      read as "to put up" or some such similar meaning.

      > Böðvarr sendi aptr knútuna ok setr á þann sem kastaði, ok rétt
      framan í hann með svá harðri svipan at hann fekk bana.
      > Bothvarr sent the knuckle joint back and hurled it at the one who
      had thrown it, and it got him in the face with so hard a knock that
      it killed him.
      > Sló þá miklum ótta yfir hirðmennina.
      > Then the men were struck with a great fear.
      > line 33. 'eitt'. Is the the accusative of 'eiðr' - 'oath',
      or 'eitr', - 'poison', 'bitterness', 'malice'
      > line 42. 'Bokki sæll'. I'm not happy with any of the translations
      of this, so I've kept to the original because to me it sounds better.
      Why not? As English speakers we are quite happy to use the honorific
      or polite titles such as 'sahib' from India or 'bwana' from the
      Swahili or even the French 'monsieur'.
      Zoëga has simply "my dear fellow".
      Bokki m. = fellow or man.
      I don't know if it is comparable to a title, such as you
      quote in your example. (by title I mean a name that
      is used to express reverence, such as "lord" or "master"
      or "sir".)

      > line 44. 'Hann setr við holan lófann' Gordon informs us that
      this means 'receive in the (hollow) palm of the hand', which helps us
      neither grammatically nor semantically. Zoga and Barnes are of no
      help either. It is in situations like this that you feel yourself
      quietly drowning. The only thing I can think of, is that 'Hann setr.'
      is elliptic, with the general sense being 'he set (himself to
      receive the knuckle bones) in the hollow of his hands.' Am I on
      target, or has the dart gone through somebody's ear?
      > Cheers,
      lófa-tak, n. (1) hand-shake; (2) show of hands.
      lófi, m. the hollow of the hand, palm (mun ek bera þat í lófa mér).

      > Jed

      I hope my comments will have raised some points that
      are of interest, though I may not have all the correct answers -
      especially since I am deprived of the good dictionary and
      grammar books that I usually depend on. (And thanks to the
      Midnight sun people, who put Zoëga on the web! A most useful
      item to have on the net!)

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